Some bills gaining strength as legislative session draws to a close

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SALT LAKE CITY -- There's just over a week left in the 2009 legislative session. Some bills are dying on the vine, but others, like closing the incest loophole and eliminating texting while driving, now have a better chance of becoming law.

A man fathering children with his own daughter: That's the claim Elend LeBaron made against his own father, Ross LeBaron, last year.

Elend came forward to KSL concerned about a loophole in Utah's incest law. That loophole would have allowed his father to avoid prosecution by claiming the children were conceived through artificial insemination, without sexual relations.

The Utah Senate voted to close that loophole today, a move Elend applauds. "I'm really hopeful that with the passage of this new law, that will drastically reduce these kinds of scenarios and cases. It will reduce the incest that is practiced in Utah. and these girls can have a future," he said.

Lawmakers are also closer to making a common practice illegal: texting while driving. Many are concerned that it is a safety hazard. Two proposals take the idea on.

"These electronic devices are really a distraction and we need to raise awareness that this is a problem," said Rolayne Fairclough, spokeswoman for AAA of Utah.

"Enforcement is an issue for a lot of things, but that's doesn't stop us from passing laws that make sense. So, I don't think it makes sense to drive and text or use the phone or even talk on the phone while you drive," said Erin Olsen, a citizen who supports the two proposals.

Moms like Olsen are concerned about their kids' safety when it comes to all those cell phone distractions. But sources at the Capitol say a bill to address texting, not general cell phone use, has the best chance of passing.


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Richard Piatt


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